What's Happening in Character?

Powerful Analogies From Nature that Build Character

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 @ 14:09 PM

by Barbara A. Lewis

Do you want to know something so strong that it survived the atomic explosion on Hiroshima? Might you guess a 400-pound gorilla that can hoist up 10 times its body weight?

Or how about Iron Man or the Hulk (not fair—they’re not real)?  Or what about the annoying cockroach?  Well, you would be right about the cockroach (which gives you a clue as to why they’re so hard to expel from your house). 

But you might not have considered bamboo. Surprise! Bamboo has more tensile strength than steel.  Knowing this, you might choose to build your next home with bamboo, because it could withstand 9.0 magnitude earthquake and last for hundreds of years. (You might want a new house before then though.)

Making analogies from nature’s stories creates a powerful way to develop good charaLewis bookcter traits.  So how do you make an analogy that builds character from this brief story?  How might you compare bamboo to a positive human character trait? 

Here are some analogies with the strength of bamboo:

  • Have you ever found courage and strength in a surprising place? 

In an emergency you find inner strength.       

A timid student has the courage to stand up to a bully.        

You give a speech when you’re terrified.    

You sit by a rejected student in the cafeteria.

Learn about:

  • Respect and courage to stand up for yourself from a pig

  • Communication skills for cooperation from a crow

  • Honesty and integrity from the pretty-but-poisonous oleander flower

  • Many more stories….

  • Activities across the curriculum that extend from the stories

  • Games

  • Science experiments and art

 Why is this so important? 

  • Because RESEARCH SHOWS that brains get involved, understand, and retain information when analogies are used.  And this is essential for positive behavior change.

  • Nature’s analogies are powerful tools to motivate students to improve behavior, and these positive traits will stick.

  • Students will react emotionally, intellectually, and enthusiastically to these analogies from nature.

  • Making a comparison from nature is not threatening, as it is when comparing the behavior of your students. 

Nature’s analogies are easy to teach, intuitive, and fun.

Topics: key lessons, character, character education, character education in curriculum, National Forum, CEPForum13, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, empathy